Japan launches experimental military communications satellite

The new colonial movement: Japan today successfully used its H2A rocket to launch an experimental military communications satellite aimed at testing long range optical communications by laser.

The JDRS-1 will relay optical and radar data from Japan’s Information Gathering Satellites (IGS) and other data from science satellites to Earth. Few details of the satellite have been revealed due to the largely military nature of its mission.

The new satellite carries Laser Utilizing Communication System (LUCAS) developed by JAXA. LUCAS uses infrared light to facilitate inter-satellite links at rates of up to 1.8 gigabits per second.

This launch is the fourth for Japan in 2020, and puts it in a tie with Europe. The leader board in the 2020 launch race however remains unchanged:

31 China
22 SpaceX
12 Russia
5 ULA
5 Rocket Lab

The U.S. remains ahead of China 35 to 31 in the national rankings.

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Chang’e-5 now in lunar orbit

The new colonial movement: China’s lunar sample return probe Chang’e-5 has now entered in lunar orbit, with its landing to occur in three days.

Over the next week, the probe, composed of four parts – the orbiter, lander, ascender and Earth re-entry module – will perform multiple complicated tasks on a tight schedule.

The four parts will separate into two pairs. The lander and ascender will head to the moon and collect samples, while the orbiter and Earth re-entry module will continue to fly around the moon and adjust to a designated orbit, getting ready for the docking with the ascender.

The landing operation is expected in three days. Once touched down on the lunar surface, the lander will collect two kilograms of lunar sample.

The plan once on the surface is to gather a sample from the surface as well as from a six-foot deep core sample.

Wealthy environmentalist picks his preferred UK spaceport

Capitalism in space: A wealthy businessman who is also involved in environmental causes has invested almost 1.5 million pounds in the proposed spaceport planned for the Shetland Islands, the northernmost British islands.

What makes this investment especially interesting is this same environmentalist’s opposition to a different spaceport proposed for Sutherland, Scotland.

Danish businessman Mr Povlsen, who is reportedly worth £4.5bn thanks to his Bestseller clothes retail empire, and his wife own thousands of acres of land in Sutherland, and on other estates in the Highlands. [Their company] Wildland Ltd has raised concerns about Space Hub Sutherland’s impact on the Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands Special Protection Area, and has sought a judicial review of Highland Council’s permission for the satellite launch project.

Another of the Povlsens’ companies, Wildland Ventures Ltd, has invested in Shetland Space Centre.

This apparently is the ultimate in NIMBY (not in my backyard!). It seems this couple is throwing its weight behind the Shetland site in order to help keep the Sutherland site (in their backyard) from being built.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

 
The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."

--San Antonio Express-News

Arizona state legislators to hold public hearing on election fraud

A group of legislators from the Arizona House and Senate have organized a public hearing on November 30, 2020 in Phoenix, open to the public, where they will allow experts as well as President Trump’s legal team to present evidence of election tampering in Arizona.

The President’s legal team will be present from DC to assist in a fact finding hearing with select members of the Arizona House and Senate and a panel of experts. The goal will be to gather the evidence that justifies calling a special session to contemplate what happened and take immediate action accordingly.

The hearing will be chaired by state representative Mark Finchem, who also happens to be my own representative. I have been in correspondence with him for the past week about the election, trying to find out if the Republican-controlled legislature was going to do anything to deal with the significant questions relating to the vote count. It appeared that though he and other conservative legislators were trying to get the Republican leadership to bring the legislature back into special session, those leaders were stalling.

From the second link:

“Since shortly before the 2020 election a number of my colleagues and I have been examining potential fraud pathways and illegal actions through which our 2020 election could become tainted. My worst fears have come to light in the process, and so far the evidence has been blocked from an official public forum.,” Rep Finchem said. “A few weeks ago I requested approval for the House Federal Relations Committee to hold a hearing on the integrity of the Arizona 2020 election. That hearing has not yet been approved by House leadership, and time is of the essence to show proof that our election has been compromised.” [emphasis mine]

It appears these conservatives have decided to do an end-around of their RINO leadership, and hold these hearings anyway. According to what Finchem has told me, the hearing will be live streamed, beginning at 9 am (Mountain) by both the One America News Network (OANN) and the Western Journal.

The goal is to make the evidence public, and thus apply some pressure on that leadership, which includes Republican governor Doug Ducey, to bring the legislature back into session. As Finchem himself noted in a Western Journal podcast on November 24th, the Constitution is very specific. To paraphrase his comments, it specifically puts the job of picking the electors in the hands of the state legislatures, not the voters or the courts. It is their duty therefore to act.

If you live in Arizona, you should be calling the offices Governor Ducey (602 542-5381) as well as House Speaker Russell Bowers (602-926-3128), demanding that they bring the legislature back into session and address the evidence, forcing a correct and careful audit of the vote, and if this cannot clarify and correct the count (no matter who wins), deny any candidate the state’s electoral votes.

I must also note something I wrote to Finchem, and is also evident in Pennsylvania. Republicans and Trump are not being well served by the state Republican leaderships in both these states. In both cases the leadership has been reluctant to do anything, washing their hands like Pontus Pilate, even though there is strong evidence that the Democrats may have stolen the election.

This is shameful, and incredibly foolish on their part. If they do not do something now, they guarantee that in coming elections they will be removed from office, by further fraud and election tampering. Do they not have instinct for survival? Or are they content to walk into the gas chambers with nary a protest?

Leaving Earth cover

In 2019 I obtained from my former publisher the last 30 copies of the now out-of-print hardback of Leaving Earth. I sold about half of these, and with only a handful left in stock I have raised the price. To get your own autographed copy of this rare collector's item please send a $75 check (includes $5 shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to
 

Behind The Black, c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652
 

I will likely raise the price again when only ten books are left, so buy them now at this price while you still can!

 
Also available as an inexpensive ebook!
 

Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel, can be purchased as an ebook everywhere for only $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

 

Winner of the 2003 Eugene M. Emme Award of the American Astronautical Society.


"Leaving Earth is one of the best and certainly the most comprehensive summary of our drive into space that I have ever read. It will be invaluable to future scholars because it will tell them how the next chapter of human history opened." -- Arthur C. Clarke

Eroded and possibly wet Lohse Crater

Gully flow near central peak of Lohse Crater on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool image time! Today we take a look at one particular 100-mile-wide crater, Lohse Crater, located in the southern cratered highlands on Mars. The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, focuses in on one of the many eroding gullies found in the mountainous region surrounding the crater’s central peak. Taken on August 20, 2020 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the full image is centered on that central peak, just off the south edge of this cropped section. This new image is part of a long monitoring campaign, begun in 2007, of this central peak region. For more than six Martian years, scientists have been tracking the numerous gullies found throughout the central peak region to see if there have been any changes.

I focused on this specific gully because I think it illustrates well why planetary scientists are monitoring these gullies. Whatever flowed down from the cliff on the left hit the material on the right hard enough and fast enough to imprint a curve into the material on the crater floor. Moreover, it does not appear to have simply been a landslide, for several reasons. First, the cliff does not appear cut back at the flow’s head, as you would expect if a section had broken off. Second, the material in the flow does not look like debris from an avalanche. In fact, there does not appear to be very much debris in the gully at all.

Third, and most important, the flow appears to originate at the cliff base, kind of what you’d expect if there was seepage coming out of a layer in that cliff face. Kind of what you’d expect on Earth, at a spring!

Was that flow water? This is the big question. Lohse Crater is significant in that it was one of the first locations on Mars [pdf] spotted by Mars Global Surveyor in the late 1990s where gullies were found suggesting some form of regular erosion possibly caused by flowing water. As this 2005 paper then concluded,
» Read more

Next Virgin Orbit LauncherOne test flight set for late December

Capitalism in space: According to Coast Guard notices, the next Virgin Orbit attempt to put its new LauncherOne rocket into orbit should occur sometime between December 18-21.

A Nov. 24 “Local Notice to Mariners” by the U.S. Coast Guard stated that Virgin Orbit “will conduct hazardous operations” offshore from San Nicolas Island, California, between Dec. 18 and 21. Those operations will take place during a four-hour window that opens at 1 p.m. Eastern.

The notice does not explicitly state that a launch will take place, but Virgin Orbit used the same language in a Coast Guard notice for its first orbital launch attempt in May. That earlier notice, which also cited “hazardous operations,” had the same four-hour window and location for the operations.

The company has not officially announced the launch date, but it has said it would fly this mission before the end of this year.

The article also notes that another smallsat launch startup, Astra, has announced its next launch attempt will take place during a 12-day launch window starting December 7th.

Orbit of pristine comet in outer solar system is shifting inward

The orbit of a pristine comet that until now has kept it in the outer solar system, where it never got warm enough shed any material, is now shifting inward to join what is dubbed the Jupiter-family of comets, whose orbits are generally within that of Jupiter.

Although it has likely lost some supervolatile ices such as carbon dioxide ice (also known as dry ice) in the outer solar system beyond Jupiter, it is unlikely to have ever been in the inner solar system (where Earth, the other rocky planets, and [Jupiter-family comets] orbit), which is warm enough for water ice to sublime (‘evaporate’ from solid to gas),” Steckloff said. “This means that [Comet 2019] LD2 is a pristine comet, and presents a unique opportunity to observe how pristine [Jupiter-family comets] behave as their water ice begins to sublime for the first time and drive comet activity. Moreover, this transition is likely to finish in only 40 years from now, which is a blink of an eye for astronomy. This means that people alive today will be able to follow this object all the way through its transition into the [Jupiter-family] population.”

In 2019, when 2019 L2 was first identified, it was thought to be an asteroid that had suddenly become active, like a comet. Astronomers soon realized this was a mistake, that it was a comet whose orbit was being changed by its interaction with Jupiter.

The new data refines this conclusion, and confirms that observations of 2019 L2 will provide a lot of information about the make-up of the early solar system. More important, the comet’s orbit will allow for many observations, over a long period of time, unlike most comets that zip around the Sun in a year or so and then are gone.

Problems discovered in new Japanese H3 rocket engine

Engineers at Mitsubishi have discovered technical Problems in the engine for Japan’s new H3 rocket, forcing its first test launch to be delayed into 2021.

The Japanese space agency JAXA told SpaceNews that problems were found with the new LE-9 engine’s combustion chamber and turbopump. “Fatigue fracture surfaces were confirmed in the apertural area of the combustion chamber inner wall and the FTP blade of the turbo pump,” according to a JAXA spokesperson.

JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), the prime contractor for the H3, were aiming to hold the inaugural launch by the end of 2020 before the discovery of issues in May. However engineers testing the LE-9 cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen engine for the H3 first stage encountered a potential issue back in May. This led JAXA to announce in September that the first flight would slip to some time in Japanese fiscal year 2021, beginning April 1, 2021. The rocket’s second launch likewise slipped to Japanese fiscal year 2022.

The H3 is intended as a cheaper and more competitive version of Mitsubishi’s H2 rocket, which has failed to garner much business outside of Japanese government launches because of its cost. That the H3 isn’t being built to be reusable however means it will likely not achieve that goal, as it will not be able to lower it enough to compete with SpaceX.

This launch delay further weakens its ability to compete, as it gives more time for other cheaper alternatives to hit the market.

Frank Sinatra – The House I Live In

An evening pause: I posted this short film back on July 4, 2019 to celebrate what America stood for. Today I post it on Thanksgiving to remind this increasingly oppressed nation what we should want, and be thankful for. If you replace the religious bigotry condemned in this movie with that of today’s political bigotry, the differences vanish. My intro from that July 4th evening pause,

———————–
[T]he news is filled with depressing outrages from ignorant social justice warriors who have no knowledge at all about the just and noble roots that founded the United States, I think it necessary to post this magnificent song performed by Frank Sinatra.

Written and produced in 1945, as World War II was ending, the short film tried to encapsulate in one short song the true meaning of the American experiment. This version below includes the lead-in scene to show the context for the song, as sung in the film. Some might find that opening overly preachy, but in the context of World War II and the recent discovery then of the Nazi death camps, it is heartfelt, real, and quite accurate. Please watch it all, and recognize this is what the United States — now being condemned routinely by leftist hate-mongers — is really about.

The song begins by asking, “What is America to me?” It answers it clearly in the final verse:

The town I live in
The street, the house, the room
The pavement of the city
Or a garden all in bloom
The church, the school, the clubhouse
The million lights I see
But especially the people
that’s American to me. [emphasis mine]

And that means all the people, not just those who agree with you.
———————

Study: Absolutely NO excess deaths from COVID-19

UPDATE: It appears the newsletter analysis that I linked to below was too hopeful for the authorities at Johns Hopkins, even though it was based on actual data. Mere minutes after I posted this they took it down, censoring this conclusion. Though I quoted a lot below, the article was much longer, included detailed graphs, and was thoughtful and thorough.

Positive news like this however must not be published. It must be squelched and silenced. We must live in fear, even if the thing we fear does not exist.

One of my readers below however found it on the Wayback Machine, here.

I have also embedded below the fold the webinar where the information censored was discussed in detail. In case Johns Hopkins or Youtube decides to censor this webinar also, another one of my readers below has downloaded it and made it available here. (It is very sad that a university now considers Orwell’s 1984 to be an instruction manual instead of a warning.)

Another reader has uploaded the file to Rumble, so I have embedded that video below as well.

Furthermore, another reader has provided me a high quality pdf of the original post, which I have uploaded and you can download here.

Original post:
——————————
A new analysis of the 2020 death statistics in the United States has revealed that despite the panic over COVID-19, the total number of deaths in all age groups — including the elderly — showed no change before or after the arrival of the virus.

This bears repeating, in bold and italics: There have been no excess deaths in 2020.

Surprisingly, the deaths of older people stayed the same before and after COVID-19. Since COVID-19 mainly affects the elderly, experts expected an increase in the percentage of deaths in older age groups. However, this increase is not seen from the CDC data. In fact, the percentages of deaths among all age groups remain relatively the same. “The reason we have a higher number of reported COVID-19 deaths among older individuals than younger individuals is simply because every day in the U.S. older individuals die in higher numbers than younger individuals,” Briand said.

Briand also noted that 50,000 to 70,000 deaths are seen both before and after COVID-19, indicating that this number of deaths was normal long before COVID-19 emerged. Therefore, according to Briand, not only has COVID-19 had no effect on the percentage of deaths of older people, but it has also not increased the total number of deaths.

These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.

And yet, there have been so many COVID-19 deaths! How can the total number of deaths not be higher? The researcher looked more closely, and discovered (surprise! surprise!) that there was an unreasonable drop in other causes, matching exactly the increase in coronavirus deaths.

When Briand looked at the 2020 data during that seasonal period, COVID-19-related deaths exceeded deaths from heart diseases. This was highly unusual since heart disease has always prevailed as the leading cause of deaths. However, when taking a closer look at the death numbers, she noted something strange. As Briand compared the number of deaths per cause during that period in 2020 to 2018, she noticed that instead of the expected drastic increase across all causes, there was a significant decrease in deaths due to heart disease. Even more surprising, as seen in the graph below, this sudden decline in deaths is observed for all other causes.

This trend is completely contrary to the pattern observed in all previous years. Interestingly, … the total decrease in deaths by other causes almost exactly equals the increase in deaths by COVID-19. This suggests, according to Briand, that the COVID-19 death toll is misleading. Briand believes that deaths due to heart diseases, respiratory diseases, influenza and pneumonia may instead be recategorized as being due to COVID-19. [emphasis mine]

In other words, COVID-19 is just another type of flu-like respiratory disease, that is only appearing terrible because doctors and hospitals are incorrectly labeling many deaths as COVID-19 when in past years they would have labeled them based on the existing chronic illnesses the patient already had.

It has all been a scam, a Chicken Little scam induced by some very evil people in government to cause fear and panic in the general population. I leave it to my readers to figure out why.

Regardless, it is time for people to come to their senses. Let the worry warts cower in mindless fear in their basements. Rip off that mask, go back to living your normal American life, free and open, pursuing your happiness.
» Read more

Summary of mass voter fraud in Georgia

Summary slide outlining Powell voter fraud allegations

Doug Ross has assembled a straightforward series of infographics clearly summarizing the allegations of voter fraud in Georgia that are described in the 104 page lawsuit [pdf] filed yesterday by Sidney Powell.

The allegations are well summarized by the slide to the right. Make sure you review the rest of his slides at the link (which provide details for each bullet point). Even more important, read the whole filing at the second link. I have. The allegations are extensive, well documented, consistently favor Biden, and justify entirely a careful, detailed hand recount (not the fake recount the state did last week). If this is not done, then the state legislature will be justified in refusing to certify the election for president, denying any candidate its electors.

Make sure you take a look. Whether you are a Trump or Biden supporter, these allegations must be dealt with and either dis-proven or fixed, before any vote in Georgia can be certified.

Any objections to a full review by anyone, especially partisan Democrats, will prove a disgusting hostility to the most basic premise of democracy, a fair and legal vote.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving, a truly American holiday, as unique to history as the United States. No nation before this one ever tried to establish by law a nation dedicated to “the pursuit of happiness” and the premise that sovereignty resides solely in the people, not in an elitist upper class of rulers. This holiday was established to celebrate and give thanks for these ideals, and the blessings of liberty they bestow to Americans.

Those ideals are now threatened by the progressives who dominate the Democratic Party and the weasels in the Republican Party too cowardly to resist. It therefore becomes imperative that, as we American citizens celebrate this holiday today with family gatherings often in defiance of the edicts of these petty dictators, we resolve to defy them in all ways, and to reclaim with courage our heritage of freedom and the individual sovereignty it gives to us.

No one has the right to give us orders. Give thanks for that, and tell those who try they risk terrible things for themselves by doing so.

Russian company proposes new Russian space station post-ISS

Energia, the division in Roscosmos that manages the Russian manned program, including its share of ISS, has proposed that Russia build its own space station after 2025, and the reasons it gives strongly suggest they are worried about the condition of their 20-year-old and leaking Zvezda module.

The International Space Station’s systems are likely to keep breaking down after 2025, Energia company, which manages the Russian module, said and suggested building a national station instead. “Russia has commitments regarding the ISS through 2025. Several elements are already seriously damaged and about to stop functioning. Many of them are impossible to replace. After 2025, we expect many ISS elements to start breaking down en masse,” the deputy director-general of Energia, Vladimir Soloviev, said at a meeting of the Russian Academy of Sciences. [emphasis mine]

They don’t mention Zvezda by name, but the highlighted words point to it. Assuming the persistent leaks in the module are related to stress damage and age, this statement is recognizing publicly that replacing Zvezda is very difficult, or impossible, and that it is on the verge of complete failure.

Whether Russia has the money or resources to get another station built soon after 2025 is questionable, however. If they do decide to go it alone, I doubt they could launch a replacement before 2030, at the earliest, and likely much later than that.

If they do end the partnership with the U.S., it is unclear what happens to ISS. If the Russians choose to undock their portion of the station it will leave ISS somewhat crippled. It has been my impression that without all of the environmental systems in the Russian half, ISS cannot function. This might no longer be true, and will likely not be true with the planned arrival of Axiom’s private modules by the mid-20s. Timing however of all this remains critical.

The coming purge

Hitler's purge in 1934, the night of long knives
Hitler’s violent purge of his opponents in 1934: The Night of Long Knives.

I have just finished reading The Memo: 20 years inside the deep state fighting for America first. Written by military intelligence and national security expert Richard Higgins, it described his long and mostly fruitless effort in Washington to make our foreign military policy more effective.

In 2016, in desperation, he allied himself with Donald Trump, hoping that a victory by this very unconventional outsider might finally put Higgins in a position of some control.

It did not work out that way. At first the established players in Washington blocked his appointment. Eventually he managed to get an assignment at the National Security Council (NSC), but at a lower ranking than initially promised. Worse, the make-up of that council remained largely controlled by Democratic Party holdovers. As Higgins described things at the NSC in the first year after Trump’s inauguration:
» Read more

Giant wind eddies in the sands of Mars

Wind eddies on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The image to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was photographed by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on August 5, 2020. It shows a cluster of the crescent-shaped gullies, apparently carved from desert sand by the prevailing winds.

Those prevailing winds here are from the southwest to the northeast. As the wind blows the sand to the east, it hits a more solid object, such as a mountain buried in the sand, which forces the wind and the blown sand to go around, much as water passes a boulder in river rapids. That solid object also causes an eddy to form at its face, the wind forced downward and then around and up, carving out the gullies by lifting the sand at the base of that solid object. The result are these crescent gullies, dubbed blow-outs.

The overview map helps explain why there is so much sand here, enough apparently to bury whole mountains.
» Read more

Starship 50,000 ft hop now scheduled for Nov 30th

Capitalism in space: Having completed all preliminary static fire tests, SpaceX has now set November 30th as the target date for 50,000 foot high hop for its eighth Starship prototype.

SpaceX is understood to be conducting a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) for the test flight, with this final Static Fire test providing key data to the final go to proceed towards SN8’s big day.

Elon Musk has already calibrated public expectations on the expected outcome of SN8’s test, noting that “understanding exactly how the body flaps control pitch, yaw & roll during descent, such that the ship is positioned well to relight, flip & land, would be a big win.” As opposed to expecting SN8 to land feet first on the landing pad.

Musk’s point is important. The primary engineering goal for this first hop will be to find out whether they truly understand how to control and fly Starship. Their knowledge in this area is only computer based, and thus is very incomplete, and could very well be wrong, resulting in a failure that prevents a proper clean landing.

Such as failure however would actually be an engineering success, as it would give them the data needed to make later prototypes work. As for landing, they know how to do that already. Once they get the flying right, the landing should follow.

SpaceX has said it will live stream that hop. Should be a thrill to watch.

SpaceX sets numerous launch records in placing 60 more Starlink satellites in orbit

Falcon 9 booster landing for a record 7th time

Capitalism in space: SpaceX tonight broke a whole bunch of new launch records in launching another sixty Starlink satellites into orbit using its Falcon 9 rocket.

First, the leaders in the 2020 launch race:

31 China
22 SpaceX
12 Russia
5 ULA
5 Rocket Lab

The US now leads China 35 to 31 in the national rankings.

For SpaceX, this launch established the following landmarks for the company:
» Read more

Chiquita Banana – The original commercial

An evening pause: This will not mean anything to my younger readers, but this song and commercial seared itself into the brains of everyone who went to the movies or watched television in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. The first version, shown here, was produced by Disney for the United Fruit Company.

I can think of no reason not to sear this song into some new generations.

Hat tip David Nudelman.

Rocket Lab declares first attempt at recovering a 1st stage a success

Capitalism in space: Rocket Lab has announced that the company’s first effort to recover a 1st stage of its Electron rocket during a November 19th launch was a complete success.

On Rocket Lab’s latest launch Nov. 19, the rocket’s first stage made a controlled reentry after stage separation, then released a drogue and a main parachute before splashing down about 400 kilometers downrange from its New Zealand launch site, where it was recovered by a boat.

The recovery itself went as planned. “The test was a complete success,” Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, said in a call with reporters Nov. 23. “The stage splashed down completely intact. What it proved to us is that this is a feasible approach, and we’re really confident that we can make Electron a reusable launch vehicle from here.”

Eventually they plan to snatch the stage out of the air using a helicopter prior to hitting the water, but are presently focusing instead on developing the proper thermal protection and attitude control systems for the flight back to Earth. They are presently taking that first stage apart and analyzing what worked and didn’t work in protecting it during that flight.

According to Beck, they will do another splashdown recovery early in ’21 to refine things. They also hope to reuse some of the recovered components from both splashdown tests on later flights.

New data makes past nova too bright, but not bright enough to be supernova

The uncertainty of science: Astronomers, using new data from the Gemini North ground-based telescope, have found that a star that brightened in 1670 and was labeled a nova is much farther away than previously thought, which means that 1670 eruption was far too powerful for a nova, but not powerful enough to make it a supernova.

By measuring both the speed of the nebula’s expansion and how much the outermost wisps had moved during the last ten years, and accounting for the tilt of the nebula on the night sky, which had been estimated earlier by others, the team determined that CK Vulpeculae lies approximately 10,000 light-years distant from the Sun — about five times as far away as previously thought. That implies that the 1670 explosion was far brighter, releasing roughly 25 times more energy than previously estimated [4]. This much larger estimate of the amount of energy released means that whatever event caused the sudden appearance of CK Vulpeculae in 1670 was far more violent than a simple nova.

“In terms of energy released, our finding places CK Vulpeculae roughly midway between a nova and a supernova,” commented Evans. “[T]he cause — or causes — of the outbursts of this intermediate class of objects remain unknown. I think we all know what CK Vulpeculae isn’t, but no one knows what it is.”

Recent research has also suggested that the cause of the eruption was not from the interaction of a binary system with one normal star and a white dwarf, as believed for decades, but possibly a binary system with a brown dwarf, or a red giant star, or two normal stars. All are remain possible, none however have been confirmed.

Regulators coming after SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility and Starship

Capitalism in space? New FAA documents suggest that government regulators are not happy with the rapid and spectacular development by SpaceX of its Super Heavy/Starship rocket at Boca Chica, Texas, and are eager to impose restrictions and delays.

The issue revolves around revisions to SpaceX’s original FAA approval for its work at Boca Chica because the company has switched from flying Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets to developing and flying Starship and Super Heavy. While the FAA has been cooperative in issuing the necessary revisions, other agencies have raised red flags.

But the most important document of the bunch is the written reevaluation signed by the FAA on May 22. The file spans 26 pages, was required for SpaceX to receive its suborbital launch license from the FAA on May 28, and incorporates concerns from state and federal environmental agencies.

In the reevaluation, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the US Fish and Wildlife Service took issue with several aspects of SpaceX’s plans and ongoing activities. Those criticisms targeted the “fluid nature” of the company’s construction projects, excessive road closures to Boca Chica Beach (which Brownsville locals prize), around-the-clock work that may affect nocturnal threatened or endangered species, prototype explosions, and sprawling wildfires the company has triggered.

The FAA responded to each concern in the document, ultimately determining “there are no significant environmental changes, and that all pertinent conditions and requirements of the prior approval have been met or will be met” with SpaceX’s suborbital test-flight plans.

However, SpaceX does not yet have the FAA’s go-ahead to launch any Starships to orbit from Boca Chica.

In its replies to concerns noted by other agencies — some of which call for a new EIS [environmental impact statement], which could take years to complete (an eternity in Musk time) — the agency repeatedly noted it is working with SpaceX to draft an “environmental review” of those plans.

Should Joe Biden and the power-hungry and controlling Democrats take control of the executive branch of the federal government, expect the FAA’s desire to help SpaceX to quickly end.

Faulty valve on one Soyuz causes Russians to delay second Soyuz launch

Due to the discovery of a faulty valve on a Soyuz rocket being prepared for launch in French Guiana, Roscosmos has delayed today’s Soyuz rocket launch from Plesetsk, Russia, until December 3rd to allow engineers to inspect similar valves on that rocket.

This quote from Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, from the first link, describing the problem, is somewhat amusing:

“The ‘faulty valve’ would be launched with the rocket, and it would return to Earth being just a heap of mishap metal, that would be the problem. There are always some flaws, but in our case, they cost too much. Happily, the low-quality detail was timely detected by the quality control system. However, in general, I do note a sharp decline in our suppliers’ responsibility and quality of their work,”

It appears the quality control problems with Russia’s aerospace industry are continuing. No one, including the Russians, should be surprised by this, as that industry has no competition to stimulate quality work and force bad companies out of business. Instead, everything is managed by Roscosmos from on top, with much of that management designed to eliminate competition entirely and protect the companies that presently exist..

China successfully launches its Chang’e-5 lunar sample mission

screen capture at Long March 5 launch of Chang'e-5
Screen capture from launch live feed

The new colonial movement: China today successfully used its Long March 5 rocket to launch its Chang’e-5 on the first lunar sample return mission since the 1970s.

If all goes well, the return capsule will return to Earth with its sample on December 15th.

China provided a live stream, in English, which I have embedded below the fold.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

31 China
21 SpaceX
12 Russia
5 ULA
5 Rocket Lab

The U.S. still leads China 34 to 31 in the national rankings.
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